Retallick ready and willing for Bledisloe Cup duty

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It was 2019, Rugby World Cup year, when Retallick last played the Australians and he's well aware of the challenge ahead for the All Blacks against a side coming of a Test series win over France.

Retallick felt there was benefit in having a camp in Christchurch last week to get a head start on this week's preparations.

There was attention paid to some of their game play, and skillsets that they didn't get right in their earlier Test matches.

"The team's always looking to improve those little things and add to the bigger picture so there were just a few things to work on there," he said.

Retallick said he had felt his absence in Japan for two seasons on sabbatical was reflected in the way he felt after his first Test back, against Fiji in Dunedin. His body had felt it after the game while his lungs were burning during what was a tough encounter before the All Blacks came home hard in the final quarter.

"It was the first time I've played 80 [minutes] in a while, but it is great to be back in the Test arena and playing Australia for the Bledisloe Cup is pretty special, and it means a lot to this team so, if I get the chance I'm looking forward to getting back out there, and especially being back at Eden Park," he said.

Having gone through quarantine before playing again he was happy with the point he had now reached and it was a case of continuing to build on that once back in the Test arena.

The areas of attention he was keen to advance where seeing the pictures in the game faster. There was a little less time in Test rugby to make decisions because of the speed of the game, and how good the defences were, while also working on sharpening his reactions, and the basic skill sets around lineouts and catch-and-pass, he said.

Australia would be looking to make an impression with their big forwards running into the All Blacks while their backs would be looking to target backs when having the ball in hand.

"I suppose that's the challenge for us, that we don't get caught out by what they bring like we did against Fiji down in Dunedin," he said.

What the Australians were capable of was nothing new to most of the All Blacks and they knew what was coming because they had been there before.

And while Australia had been pushed to claim their series win over France in June, the All Blacks would be looking to achieve control. They would be ready for what Australia was capable of and they would be looking to get on the front foot against them, he said.

Retallick said the uncertainty that was alleviated with the Tuesday announcement that the first two Bledisloe Cup Tests would be played in Auckland, and the third in Perth, was not a distraction. The All Blacks were focused on Saturday and would take whatever came along after that.

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